Orlando Pirates head of development Augusto Palacios says a change in the players' attitude has been key to the first team's success this season.
Peruvian tactician took charge of the Bucs first team between November 2017 and February 2018 as the Soweto giants endured their worst season in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era.
Pirates suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns in Tshwane under Palacios' guidance just over 12 months ago and the 66-year-old was soon replaced by Swedish trainer Kjell Jonevret, who was fired by the club at the end of the 2016/17 campaign.
“I want to say what I said in my last game (in charge of the first team), if the players have commitment, character and they fight for the brand - you can win any trophy and the league,” Palacios said on IOL.
Serbian mentor Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic, who had coached Bucs between 2005 and 2006, was reappointed by the Houghton-based side prior to the start of the current season and he managed to stabilize the team, and turn it into PSL title challengers.
“You must play for the brand and be committed to the game on and off the field. You can’t only be a professional on the field. Check the PSL right now, how many superstars don’t make the starting XI of their teams? It’s a lot," he continued.
"It’s no longer about names but about the players who are committed to the course. It’s the truth. That’s why Maritzburg United and Free State Stars are among the clubs at the top of the log. It’s no longer about names and superstars. Players need to understand that you must be professional on and off the field. Football has changed," the former Kaizer Chiefs coach added.
The Buccaneers are placed second on the league standings - one point behind log leaders Sundowns, who have a game in hand.
“Pirates can win the championship, why not? Anything can happen. There is more pressure on the team at the top because those who are behind are doing everything they can to catch up with them. For me the league hasn’t been decided yet," Palacios explained.
Palacios guided the Buccaneers to their last PSL title in 2012 after taking over the first team midway through the season following the departure of Brazilian mentor Julio Cesar Leal.
“What I like is the commitment of the players. Remember the old Pirates, when they were trailing or things were level around the 80th minute - you knew that they would come back to get something out of that match by either stealing a point or winning. This spirit is back now. Why? Because of the commitment of the players. Before it wasn’t there and that was my criticism. That your private life (was messing with the players’ performance on the field). If you are professional on and off the field and are committed, you can win anything," he added.
"Things are changing. I am happy that there is a high level of competition for places. I don’t want to mention names but there are some payers who aren’t playing at Pirates now (but used to command a regular starting berth). I have been here for 23 years, no-one can tell me what Pirates is about. I know. To win the treble wasn’t through luck. Players like Benni (McCarthy) were committed to the cause," he concluded.